150612artichoke
We’re calling this our “Textures of Artichoke” plate, a very modernist sort of name, no? But it goes along with past “textures” plates of tomatoes, beets, mushrooms, and corn. This could almost count for one of our lexographic vegetable cookery posts, given that it approaches the vegetable in four different ways – “A” is for alcachofa, alcaucíl and/or artichoke. You could use any of these components on their own in other dishes.

Cheesecake:

Crust: 95 gm pastry flour, 110 gm butter, 2 garlic cloves, 1 small shallot, pinch of salt, egg yolk, all pulsed together to create a wet sand texture that will just hold together when rolled out into small rounds (10) and placed inside buttered ring molds. Par-baked at 180C for about 10 minutes before filling is added.

Filling: Steam two fresh artichoke hearts and stems (the leaves cut away, the choke removed, the stem peeled), actually, steam a couple more, you’re going to need them below for the sauce, and trim more for the escabeche. When soft, blend with 300 gm ricotta, 200 gm sheep’s milk pecorino, 180 ml scalded whole milk, 50 gm melted butter, 2 Tb flour, 1 tsp salt, 3 eggs. Or whatever cheesecake recipe you want to use that will work for a savory cheesecake. Pour roughly 80 ml of the mixture into each now hot ring mold and return to the oven, turn down to 140C and bake until just set, about 15 minutes. These can be cooled, wrapped, and then rewarmed later to serve.

Escabeche:

You need half a prepped artichoke per person, simply sauteed in olive oil with a couple of crushed garlic cloves and bay leaves, salt and pepper, until golden brown on all sides and soft. During the last minute or so of cooking splash in some sherry vinegar (or balsamic) and toss well to lightly glaze.

Sauces:

Spicy artichoke sauce: 2 steamed artichoke hearts and stems as above, blended with 120 ml of good olive oil, juice of half a lemon, 1/2 tsp each of salt and white pepper, a few sprigs of parsley, and a hot green chili or two – you don’t want this super spicy, so it simply depends what sort of chilies you’re using, I typically add 1 green aji limo and then taste, and add another if needed, plus adjusting the salt if necessary.

Lemon puree: slice a peeled green apple into a small pot, add the juice and peel (cut off most of the white pith) of a lemon, cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until the peel and apples are soft. Puree with a 1/2 tsp of salt.

Artichoke syrup: If you’re not familiar with it, there’s a liqueur out there, a digestif, called Cynar, that’s made from artichokes. I simply reduced the liqueur by about 3/4 (1 cup down to a 1/4 cup), so it became a thick syrup.

Chili oil: Neutral oil with merquen chili flakes in it. Merquen is a smoked, dried chili from Chile that I’m quite fond of. It’s not an overly spicy chili, so it makes a nice accompaniment to this dish – substitute any other mild to medium hot smoked chili flake or ground chili (ancho would be a more readily available substitute for most people I’d guess).

I just kind of placed the cheesecake on the plate, squiggled the four sauces around it, added the artichoke escabeche half, and that was it. All the flavors work, and people seemed to love it!

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